The City of West Hollywood will begin distributing drink-spiking test strips in partnership with the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s WeHo Life program to West Hollywood nightlife establishments. Drink-spiking test strips are designed to detect the possible presence of “date rape” drugs, such as GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) or ketamine. The test-strip user drops a small amount of drink liquid on the testing patch, which turns dark blue if drugs are present.
Outreach staff from the WeHo Life program will begin test-strip distribution efforts on Friday, October 14, 2022. The program will partner with local nightlife venues to ensure test strips are available on an ongoing basis for interested patrons. The immediate aim is to inform and educate community members and businesses that drink-spiking test strips are a tool for personal safety that can be used anywhere at any time. The City and the Center hope that personal experience with using test strips will encourage nightlife patrons to purchase, carry, and use them on a regular basis.
The West Hollywood City Council approved a plan to purchase and distribute drink-spiking test strips earlier this year following reports of individuals feeling that they had been drugged (“roofied”) at West Hollywood nightlife venues.
The City Council convened a Study Session on Nighttime Safety on Monday, August 22, 2022 and, on that day, members of the City Council joined with members from the City’s Public Safety Commission, LGBTQ+ Advisory Board, Transgender Advisory Board, and Women’s Advisory Board, as well as City staff members and public safety personnel, in a successful activation to walk to local bars and distribute drink-spiking test strips.
The City of West Hollywood is home to a large number of entertainment-oriented businesses, such as restaurants, lounges, bars, and nightclubs; there are more than 200 establishments in the City. Reopening after pandemic-related restrictions has been an encouraging return to normalcy, but it has also brought into focus safety concerns at nightlife venues. Public safety is always the City of West Hollywood’s number-one priority and the City takes patron safety concerns very seriously.
The City of West Hollywood has, for many years, partnered with the Los Angeles LGBT Center on its WeHo Life program, which provides health education and harm reduction information and materials to West Hollywood community members and businesses. The WeHo Life program provides condoms, linkage to HIV/STI testing and treatment, fentanyl test strips, and other health/wellness information to the entire community. Now, the WeHo Life program adds outreach efforts to distribute drink-spiking test strips to businesses and patrons in West Hollywood, with a focus on prevention and harm reduction.
The City has several initiatives in place to assist in creating and maintaining a safe environment in nightlife establishments. The City’s Community Safety Department has developed a training manual for owners and managers of bars, lounges, and clubs. The West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station’s Entertainment Policing Team (EPT) is a team of Sheriff’s Deputies who are primarily focused on entertainment- and alcohol-related law enforcement issues in the City and, on a nightly basis, the EPT actively patrols approximately 60 bars, nightclubs, and hotels and liaises with management of nightlife establishments.
West Hollywood became the first city in California to pass an Ordinance, in late 2021, to require Bystander Intervention training for personnel in business establishments that serve alcohol for onsite consumption. The Bystander Intervention training program launched in March 2022. Provided by the Rape Treatment Center (RTC) at UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center, the training is an educational course that addresses the issue of drug-facilitated sexual assaults and date rape drugs. The training also promotes the proactive role that onsite alcoholic beverage sales establishments can take in the prevention of sexual assaults.
The City and the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station urge anyone who believes they are a victim of any crime – or anyone in the community with any public safety concerns – to reach out to the Sheriff’s Station 24/7 at (310) 855-8850. Additionally, the City’s Block by Block Security Ambassadors program leverages the effectiveness of local law enforcement and works in collaboration with the Sheriff’s Station. The Block by Block Security Ambassador Hotline provides access to free, 24/7 support by phone or text at (323) 821-8604. In an emergency, always call 911.